Walter Johnston House

12944 Elm Street

Built circa 1930

Photographs by BIHS Executive Director Kevin Brown



Blue Island’s prosperity is connected with railroads.  With the coming of the Chicago, Rock Island, & Pacific Railroad, Blue Island developed from a rural enclave to a prosperous city.  Walter Johnston was the son of a Rock Island Railroad engineer.  This inspired a fascination with railroads, and Johnston began building scale model train replicas.  Johnston’s large scale model railroads weighed 1800 pounds, ran on anthracite coal, and could pull 30 persons at 12 mph.  Replicas of these engines are on display at the Blue Island Historical Society Museum.


The Johnston House is an example of Tudor Revival architecture, a popular style in the 1920s and 1930s.  The home features brick wall cladding, veneered in an elaborate decorative pattern.  The entryway features a stone arched doorway.  The arch styling of the front entry door is carried out through many of the room openings inside the house as well.


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